Explore Your World
I read an article last March that has given me ongoing thoughts about the changing world around us. There has recently been a low-key opening of a new Harley Davidson dealership in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You may wonder why this news brought my attention to the changing world. Please allow me to explain.
The war of my grandfather’s generation was the First World War. The war of my father’s generation was the Second World War. This was without question, in my mind, the war of all wars so far on this earth. This was the war that defined the “Greatest Generation”, a book by Tom Brokaw. For my father, everything in his life was measured as before the war or during the war or after the war. While my father and my three uncles were away for all those years fighting in “The War”, my mother and I, and my cousins, and my aunts all lived together in my grandparent’s home sharing one bathroom. Those memories are still vivid in my mind.
Between my father’s generation and my generation, there was the Korean War. The war of my generation was the Vietnam War. The peak of that war was about the time of my graduation from dental school in 1967 and then ended with the fall of Saigon in 1969. This is the war that enveloped our nation during my college and dental school years. I had served in the military right out of high school and then married and thus was not one of those who was drafted and served in combat in Vietnam. Although I remember those stories from men my age who were in Vietnam and they are deep in my mind.
I have had the blessing of conducting four dental humanitarian missions to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War and have been able to cover much of the country both north and south and into the Mekong Delta doing service for young Vietnam orphans. I have had the occasion to share time and hear history of events of the war that shaped the lives of so many of the people I have met there.
My last trip to this country was in the spring of 2003. Since that time, this beautiful country has, without question, become an emerging nation. My observation during my trips there was that the country was on the verge of change and of a new economy, but it was still in its infancy. There are 40 million motorcycles in the country, but I never had seen one Harley.
What is Vietnam today? There is a vital and alive tourist industry. There is an export of rice and shrimp and clothing to name a few. In about 2006, the first US commercial airline flight went into Ho Chi Minh City since the US evacuation at the end of the war. When I was there, this was not the case. There were no US commercial flights to Vietnam.
So, along with all the other rapid change in this emerging country, came Harley-Davidson of Saigon. The use of the name Saigon makes a statement. As you of my age remember, that was the name of the huge city now called Ho Chi Minh City, being changed at the end of the war.
The dealership, as it appears, could fit into any city in our country. The dealership has all 27 of Harley’s current models offering on the floor and some customized bikes. There is a large service area staffed by imported talent. There is a guard and you need to swipe an access card to get in.
The cost of a Harley in that country is about double what they are here. They are priced anywhere from $35,000 to $40,000. In a country where the average income is $150 per month or less, this means one of those bikes over there is for the super-rich. What I observed during my time there was for three of four members of a family riding on one Chinese bike that cost $150-$200 or a Japanese bike costing $600-$700. That bike would be the total means of transportation for the entire family, with most families having no transportation.
Well, there you have it—our shrinking changing world. And the pace of this change only appears to be gaining speed.
Thanks for listening,
Please accept an invitation to explore your world.
I have had them, you have them, my mother always told me to get rid of them, or “Roy, break your bad habits.” We can develop them over time without ever realizing it. I guess I can say, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” But, when it comes to motorcycling, those bad habits are not “just the way we are” if we really want to decrease our risk and increase our enjoyment of riding.
Don’t forget – You are Vulnerable.
When I was young, I certainly tended to believe I was invulnerable. My life experiences have taught me many important lessons. If we have ridden many years and many miles without an incident, we might think that riding is not really dangerous. This overconfidence can lead us to not recognizing subtle signs or threats that will challenge your safety. While riding your motorcycle, you can never ever let down your focus, your guard, your peripheral vision in being aware of any and all clues that may lead to a risk of your safety.
- Assuming the coast is clear:
Don’t make assumptions. Motorcycles are relatively small and that makes it much more likely that drivers will not see you. One of the most problematic situations is when a motorcycle is approaching an intersection with other drivers waiting to turn left across the riding lane. Never assume that a driver who appears to see you will not cut in front of you. Always expect the unexpected. There are many other scenarios where we might make assumptions that get us in trouble. This is only an example to make the point.
- Not preparing:
“Wish for the best, but prepare for the worst.” This is a motto we have all heard before. Don’t get on your bike for a short ride with flip-flops and short pants on because you are just going down the street and back and nothing will happen. Whether you’re going for 30 minutes or 30 days, be prepared for all circumstances and conditions. Wear proper gear all the time.
- Charging into corners:
Many of the corners we encounter do not provide a clear view of the corner exit. You cannot see hazards that may be present around the bend until you are already in the hazard. Enter blind turns slow enough so that you can avoid any hidden hazard. When you can see all is clear, roll on the throttle and accelerate out.
- Believing you’re better than you are:
This can be a problem in many facets of our lives. We need to live our lives and ride our bikes at our skill level. Yes, we should always be trying to increase our skill level in all aspects of life, but until that level has been tested and verified, we need to not get a “Big Head.” Also, remember, many skills are a perishable commodity. We should take time to sharpen the saw in the church or school parking lot.
Take time to evaluate your habits to see if they are increasing or decreasing your risk.
Keep the rubber side down,